Robert Heriot Clarkson

Associate Justice - NC Supreme Court

Date Born: August 21, 1863

Date Died: January 27, 1942

Place Born: Kingville, SC

Place Buried: Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC


Associate Justice 1923-1942

Robert Heriot Clarkson was born on August 21, 1863 in Kingsville (later shortened to Kingville), SC, the son of William Clarkson and Margaret Susan Fullerton (Simons) Clarkson. The family lived in Eastover, SC for a while, then moved to Charlotte, NC in 1873. He attended the Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte from 1873 until 1880, at which time he became a clerk with the legal firm of Jones and Johnston. He studied law at the University of North Carolina for nine months in 1884 and in October of that year was licensed to practice law by the NC Supreme Court. He then returned to Charlotte.

In 1888, Robert Heriot Clarkson formed a law partnership with Charles H. Duls.

From 1887 to 1889, and from 1891 to 1893, Robert Heriot Clarkson was Alderman and Vice Mayor of Charlotte.

On December 10, 1889, Robert Heriot Clarkson married Mary Lloyd Osborne, daughter of Rev. Edwin Augustus Osborne and Frances Swann (Moore) Osborne; they had nine children, five of whom survived childhood.

In 1898, Robert Heriot Clarkson was elected as one of three men to represent Mecklenburg County in the NC House of Representatives of the:
- 93rd General Assembly that met in 1899

In 1904, Governor Charles Brantley Aycock appointed Robert Heriot Clarkson as Solicitor for the 12th Judicial District, a position he retained until 1910. When Duls was selected for a Superior Court judgeship in 1913, Robert Heriot Clarkson then formed a partnership with Carol D. Taliaferro. In 1918, his son, Francis Osborne Clarkson, joined the firm.

As President of the North Carolina Anti-Saloon League, Robert Heriot Clarkson played a vital role in the enactment and subsequent approval in a state-wide referendum of the 1908 act banning the manufacture and sale of liquor.

In 1923, Governor Cameron A. Morrison appointed Robert Heriot Clarkson as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Platt Dickinson Walker, who had died on May 22, 1923. Elected in his own right in 1924, then re-elected in 1926 and 1934, he continued on the NC Supreme Court until his death.

From 1923 to 1942, Robert Heriot Clarkson was a member of the North Carolina Historical Commission.

On January 27, 1942, Robert Heriot Clarkson died, and he was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC.

Heriot Clarkson, Democrat, of Charlotte, NC, was born at Kingville, Richland County, SC on August 21, 1863. Son of Major William Clarkson and Margaret S. Simons. Educated at the Carolina Military Institutre of Charlotte, University Law School at Chapel Hill. Licensed by the NC Supreme Court to practice law in 1884. Immediately thereafter began the practice of law at Charlotte, NC.

Alderman and Vice Mayor of Charlotte 1887-1883, 1891-1892. In 1889, member of the House of Representatives, known as "White Supremacy Legislature." In that Legislature he introduced and passed the House bill which resulted in the establishment of the Textile Department of the State College.

City Attorney of Charlotte 1901-1904. Twice codified the city ordinances of Charlotte 1887 and 1901; legal advisor under administration of Mayor T.L. Kirkpatrick.

Solicitor of the 12th Judicial District 1904-1910.

Author of "The Hornet's Next," appearing in the "North Carolina Booklet" of October 1901. Delivered address to the Society of the Cincinnati on "The Heroic Incidents of the Life of General Francis Marion."

On December 10, 1889, he married Mary Lloyd Osborne, four living children - ex-State Senator Francis O. Clarkson, Attorney in Charlotte, NC; Edwin O. Clarkson, Realtor in Charlotte, NC; Rev. Thomas S. Clarkson of Minden, Louisiana; Mrs. John Garland Pollard, Jr. of Arlington, VA.

Clarkson was a Mason, a life member of Lodge No. 31, A.F. and A.M. at Charlotte; Noble of the Mystic Shrine (Oasis Temple); Knights of Pythias; Junior O.U.A.M.; member of the Society of Sons of the Revoltion; Society of the Cincinnati; member of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina.

At one time, he was a Lieutenant of the Hornet's Nest Riflemen in Charlotte. Thirty-odd years director in the Charlotte YMCA. President of the YMCS of the Carolinas. One of the original founders of the Crittenden Home and the Mecklenburg Industrial Home for Women. For many years a director of the Chamber of Commerce and "Made in the Carolinas" Exposition.

Chairman Anti-Saloon League when the saloon was voted out of Charlotte on July 5, 1904. Also President Anti-Saloon League when the saloon and distillery were vote out of the Satate on May 27, 1908. Governor Robert B. Glenn presented him with the pen with which he signed the Prohibition Proclamation. Helped to organize "The United Dry Forces" of North Carolina.

Trustee State Association YMCA of North Carolina. Was Chairman of the Good Roads Assocation Committee that drafted the tentative good roads act passed by the Legislature of 1921 substantially as drawn. He drafted the Mecklenburg Drainage Act and was the leader in establishing the Belmont Vocational School at Charlotte, the first of its kind in the State.

Appointed Justice of the NC Supreme Court by Governor Cameron A. Morrison on May 26, 1923 to fulfill the unexpired term of Associate Justice Platt D. Walker, elected in 1926 for a term of eight years and re-elected in 1934. LLD from the University of North Carolina in 1928.

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